As I’m sure you all know, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are currently practicing social isolation, and that number will likely go up in the near future. Of course this is quite difficult for most people. With social isolation comes many practical problems that need to be overcome (how to work/continue your education from home, have enough food that that you don’t need to go shopping, etc.), but it also brings with it some more emotional difficulties. What I hope to do in this blog post is help anyone who is or will be strugglings with these difficulties, helped by my own experience from the past week.
Being stuck at home all day with or without school work will likely lead to extreme boredom, and being bored can also lead to being quite high strung emotionally, so finding stuff to keep you busy–although it’s a challenge–is kind of crucial. If you are homeschooled or have assigned schoolwork to do at home you should of course keep doing that,but even if your school is temporarily on break, that doesn’t mean all learning has to be stopped! Try looking ahead in some of your textbooks–not only can this be interesting, but it will also help you later on–or researching a topic that interests you but you’ve never had time to learn more about. If you’re an artist, think about fun projects you could do during this time, whether that’s a painting, photo collage, short story, musical composition, or anything else you come up with. If you don’t think of yourself as an artist...I suggest the same things! It’s not hard to pick up a piece of paper and a pen, and it can be a lot of fun to experiment with new things. Not only that, but you might discover a hidden talent ;). Other ways to keep busy include reading all those books you’ve never had time for in the past, doing jigsaw puzzles, and playing games with family members. You could even undertake something like cleaning out an old closet or drawer—it can be incredibly satisfying, and you might stumble across some old memories in the process ;) Watching movies or TV can also be a lot of fun, and is not necessarily a bad idea, but try not to spend too much time looking at screens, particularly if you’re already doing online schooling (and NMG!). There are lots of other options, and if you do several different things each day that should help keep you from getting bored. For other ideas I would suggest consulting the The Bored Board. It’s full of wonderful member advice for keeping busy!
Of course though, keeping busy isn’t the only thing we need to do to get through something like this. One of the first things to pop into many minds (particularly teens and preteens) when thinking about this is probably how to survive without socialisation. This can be hard if you’re used to seeing your friends at school all day every day, but even if you normally don’t get that, being unable to hangout with your friend occasionally (during this time period) or to see them at a class you normally go to can be a very daunting prospect. However, even if this is called “social” isolation, it is still possible to have a social life of a sort throughout this. Anyone who has ever had a long-distance friend knows that although such friendships can be difficult at times and lead to sadness that you can’t actually be together, they can also be very very fun and wholesome relationships! Ways to keep in touch vary, but texting, email, phone calls, video chatting, and writing physical letters to each other are all great options. Even walkie-talkies can be fun if you have them and are friends with your neighbors! It might not be quite the same as being with them, but it’s well worth the trouble figuring how best your individual friendships will grow and remain close throughout this. If you’re stuck at home and lonely, there’s a good chance your friends are too, so reach out to them and you can keep each other virtually company.
So. If we’re not bored and we’re not lonely, what else could possibly be a problem with this? Well, there’s something that’s the opposite of loneliness, and that’s something that you just might find yourself having trouble with if you’re spending all your time at home. We all love our families right? Our parents, siblings, pets, etc., but is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Definitely. Being with the same people all day every day, without a break, can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that just as you are “stuck with them” they’re also stuck with you. This isn’t their fault, and we’re all just trying our best to get through it safely. I know how hard it sometimes is, but if you’re starting to get annoyed with someone, just take a couple of deep breaths and remind yourself that you ARE capable of being calm. If someone else is getting annoyed with you, do the same thing. Try not to react badly, and maybe kindly call them out on what’s really going on. Sometimes we get mad for “no reason” and we need help realizing what the underlying cause is. We’re all dealing with stress, and–like boredom–that makes us much more susceptible to other negative emotions. Say something like “I know you’re upset about everything going on, but can you please not take it out on me?” Hopefully this realization of what is really upsetting us will help. Also, try to remember that you’re actually really lucky to have them around. Can you imagine staying at home completely alone for even a week? That’s REAL loneliness. That being said, it’s still important to get some privacy and alone time. This can be challenging with everyone home and doing different things, but there’s always some small corner you can be alone in, whether that’s your bedroom, the basement, or if you share a room, maybe even something like your closet! We definitely don’t want to stay secluded all the time, but a few quiet minutes where we can just read, journal or daydream can be necessary at times.
Lastly...how can we keep from stressing too much about the coronavirus, and for that matter, how should we feel about it? Well, everyone will feel a little differently, and that’s 100% fine! Nobody should be forced to feel a certain way. If however, you’re on either extreme of worried/not worried, it can be really hard for you and also your loved ones. If you’re in full blown panic mode, that’s probably not very healthy for you (yes, high stress levels can actually make you more susceptible to sickness), so try to tone down your fears just a little bit. This doesn’t mean convincing yourself everything is fine (because it’s not) but try to accept that essentially “what’s done is done”, and all you can do right now is try your best to keep yourself and others healthy. If, on the other hand, you’re really not that worried...a positive outlook is a wonderful thing, and we definitely need people like that in the world, but if you think there’s nothing to be scared about and you’re stuck at home “for no reason”, social isolation is going to be doubly hard for you, and you might even worry people you love if they think you might get reckless or something. If that’s how you feel right now, it might not be a bad thing for you to ask someone else about why they’re worried. Even if you don’t start stressing yourself, you may have an easier time understanding why they are, and if you understand that, you’ll know why social isolation is necessary, even if you’re not personally scared. And understanding that will hopefully make the process a little easier for you.
I hope this is helpful in some way! We’re living in strange and scary times and social isolation is hard, but it’s one of the best things we can do to fight this virus, so we can all try to stay as happy as possible as well as healthy. I know I couldn’t possibly have touched on everything that we have to deal with during this, so if anyone has more advice, thoughts, or concerns they would like to share/talk about, feel free to comment below!